LIVE: Morel's second homer puts Sox ahead

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LIVE: Morel's second homer puts Sox ahead

Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011
Posted: 8:55 a.m.
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(AP) -- When Chicago and Cleveland last met three weeks ago, the teams were battling for second place and just back of AL Central-leading Detroit.

The White Sox have since overtaken the Indians for second, but that doesn't seem to matter much now.

Having fallen significantly off the pace in the division, Chicago and Cleveland open a four-game series Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field looking like they'll simply be playing for pride down the stretch.

The White Sox (71-70) were 3 12 games back of the Tigers, while the Indians were two games out when they opened a three-game series in Chicago on Aug. 16. Cleveland (70-70) took two of three in that series between teams with legitimate playoff hopes.

That isn't the case anymore, however.

The White Sox have dropped five of eight to fall nine games back of Detroit, while the Indians have lost five of seven and are 9 12 back.

Cleveland's playoff aspirations effectively came to an end when it was swept in a three-game home series by the Tigers, capped with an 8-6 loss Wednesday.

"We just got swept," said first baseman Shelley Duncan, who hit a pair of two-run homers off Justin Verlander. "We're a little down right now."

Although his club's postseason chances are dim, manager Manny Acta is trying to stay positive.

"If we don't win (Thursday), it's not because this series is lingering," he said. "They've gone through worse and they have bounced back."

The White Sox, who lost to Minnesota 5-4 on Wednesday, experienced their own sweep to the Tigers over the weekend. Possibly the biggest blow to Chicago's playoff hopes came in scheduled starter Gavin Floyd's last outing.

In Detroit on Saturday, Floyd (12-10, 4.45 ERA) gave up four runs and eight hits and departed after five innings with the White Sox leading 8-4. But closer Sergio Santos gave up two homers in the ninth and the Tigers won 9-8 to drop Chicago 7 12 games off the pace.

Floyd has been hit-or-miss against the Indians lately. Since 2009, the right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA in five starts in the series, but 0-2 with a 15.43 ERA in the other three.

It has been a similar story since the All-Star break for Floyd, who has posted a 1.45 ERA in winning six of his starts as opposed to 0-1 with a 13.15 ERA in the other three. He has made two starts against the Indians in this stretch with two differing results.

In Cleveland on July 22, Floyd allowed four hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 3-0 win, but at U.S. Cellular on Aug. 16, he gave up five runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-7, 14-inning win.

The Indians counter with David Huff (2-3, 2.81), who gave up five runs and six hits in six innings of Saturday's 5-1 loss to Kansas City. It was the second time in three starts the left-hander permitted five runs after posting a 0.51 ERA in his first three starts.

Huff made a relief appearance against Chicago on Aug. 16, entering in the 14th inning to face Juan Pierre, who singled home the winning run.

He made all of his three career starts against the White Sox in 2009, going 2-0 despite an 8.04 ERA.

Chicago's Alexei Ramirez, batting .333 with six doubles in his last 11 games, is 5 for 9 with two homers lifetime against Huff.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

GLENDALE, ARIZ -- Ken Williams acknowledges that this is the first time as an executive that he's ever been a part of a rebuild.  After realizing their go-for-it attitude for more than a decade had run out of steam, the White Sox front office decided it needed to look in the mirror, take a step back, and start anew. It began this offseason with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and will continue into this season and likely next season.

No longer involved in the day-to-day running of the White Sox, Williams believes he has found the right balance as the team's executive and vice president, utilizing his strengths in scouting and player development while overseeing things as Hahn reshapes the organization from top to bottom.

How does this dynamic work between Williams and Hahn? Williams goes in-depth on this subject and many others in our White Sox Talk Podcast conversation.

Among the highlights:

Working relationship with Rick Hahn: "The relationship has been the same and consistent since the very beginning.  We're constantly talking.  I'm not going to BS you and say that we don't have these conversations. I just think that a certain point in time, you just have to say here is your responsibility and mine is over here. I have to respect the fact that this is what you want to do. I'm only going to express my interest to a point so that you can come to your own decision without my influence and then we're getting to brass tax.  Most times than not, he'll express, 'Hey, I need to know what you think. But until that time you've got to give people the space to do a job as they see fit, and to plot a course as they see fit."

Trading Chris Sale: "Contrary to popular belief, we have enjoyed a great relationship over the years. There was obviously a little blip in that part of it and I've always understood him because I was a little bit like that when I was younger too.  It was very often a couple days later we'd visit and laugh about a couple things but also in a serious manner.  he's one of the best in the game.  How do you trade one of the best pitchers in the game and not feel some remorse about it?  On the other end of the spectrum we got what we think are special pieces that will be with us for quite a while assuming good health. And you can envision them being part of a championship team.  We got to the point where we couldn't envision that particular group that we had be a part of a championship team and that's what it's about."

Possibly trading Jose Quintana: "I have not been presented with anything that has been recommended by Rick that he wants to do. So in terms of closeness, we've bantered some things around, but Jose Quintana is a very, very special pitcher. I'm sure if something comes up where it's consistent with what we've done thus far then I'm sure Rick will put it in front of both Jerry and I.  But until that time, I can't say that anything has been close or relatively close."

His hopes for the White Sox: "My only goal at this point in my career is to help bring another championship to Chicago and to Chicago fans, watch Rick Hahn walk across the stage to receive an Executive of the Year award and watch Rick Renteria accept the Manager of the Year Award.  Then I will consider this a job well done. If any of those things don't happen, then it won't be.  I sincerely feel that in my heart."

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As he surveyed the landscape this offseason, Peter Bourjos thought he and the White Sox would make for a good fit.

Adam Eaton had been traded and Austin Jackson departed via free agency, leaving the White Sox with Melky Cabrera and several young players to man a thin outfield. Bourjos, who lived in Chicago until second grade, pursued the White Sox and last month agreed to terms on a minor-league deal in hopes of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Last season, Bourjos, who was born in Chicago, hit .251/.292/.389 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 383 plate appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I always liked playing in Chicago,” Bourjos said. “It was a good fit and then spring training is here. I have two young kids. So packing them up and going to Florida wasn’t something I wanted to do either.

“We definitely look at all those options on paper. Evaluate what might be the best chance of making a team and this is definitely one of them. It seems like a good fit on paper.”

If he’s healthy enough, Charlie Tilson will get the first crack at the everyday job in center field. Tilson, who missed the final two months of last season with a torn hamstring, is currently sidelined for 10 days with foot problems. Beyond Tilson, the White Sox have prospects Adam Engel and Jacob May with Cabrera slated to start in left field and Avisail Garcia pegged for right. Leury Garcia is also in the mix.

But there still appears to be a good shot for Bourjos to make the club and manager Rick Renteria likes his veteran presence for the young group. Bourjos has accrued six seasons of service time between the Phillies, Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals.

“Bourjy has been around,” Renteria said. “He knows what it takes. He understands the little nuances of major-league camp and how we have so many players and we want to give them all a look. We want to see Bourjos, we want to see him out there.”

Bourjos, who turns 30 in March, has an idea what he wants to do with his chance. A slick defensive outfielder, Bourjos wants to prove he’s a better hitter than his .243/.300/.382 slash line would suggest. He said it’s all about being relaxed.

“Offensively just slow everything down and not try to do too much,” Bourjos said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself and it hasn’t translated. I think last year I got in a spot where I just tried to relax in the batter’s box and let everything go and what happened happened. I had success with that.

“I now realize what that feels like and it doesn’t work. Just take a deep breath and be relaxed in the box and good things are going to happen.”